Monday, September 28, 2009

Te Amo

I walked the streets in my precious free hours, absorbing the architecture, the fountains, the art. I wanted that someone special to share it with. Like the last time. Eating paella and drinking sangria in the Mediterranean sunshine.

It was not going to happen like that so I walked by myself, purposefully, camera in hand. It was the small one, not a giant touristy one like the rest of the people. But I'm sure I still stood out.

I heard him talking. Assumed he was on the phone. Until he said "excuse me".

I turned. He asked if I was a tourist. I told him I was on business. His English was as bad as my Spanish. He asked if he could walk with me. Its a free city. How could I refuse?

My Spanish is terrible, but not without some understanding. He was Catalan. A chef in Barcelona. Lived near the the Museo Picasso. 28. Alberto. He introduced himself like a typical Spaniard. Two kisses; one on either side of my cheeks.

I stopped to chat at a streetside cafe. Drank bottled water while he drank coffee. When we ran out of our mutual stores of English and Spanish, I reminded him that I had to return to my friends at my hotel.

His English was perfect. "Kiss me." I shook my head no. He pouted. It didn't work. He didn't realize I had two children. I'm used to ignoring a pout aimed at getting something I'm not intent on giving.

I thanked him for the conversation. He leaned to kiss me. I gave him my cheek.

He pouted again. I thought he said "Manana." Then I realized he said, "Te amo."

I shook my head and laughed. "You don't love me."

I waved, and turned away.


Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Join the Club

I kept my camera in my purse, resisting the urge to take photographic evidence. After all, everyone else was acting like it was no big deal.

But let’s face it. It’s the jet. Well, one of several. It’s a big deal.

I stepped inside behind the big cheeses. I was clearly the little cheese. But I was still getting onto a private plane to go across the ocean. Leather seats, wood grains, full service everything. No crappy overhead announcements, personal explanation of all safety features from a lovely young woman.

But after a while, the leather seats are just seats, and the only thing different about in flight entertainment is that I got to pick it from the little DVD library, rather than having some monkey in a corporate office pick the month’s entertainment.

Until I got to the bathroom.

First, I wasn’t even sure I was in the bathroom. It was 3 times bigger than a normal bathroom on a plane. And rather than being death gray plastic, the walls were covered in fine wood grain and mirrors. I couldn’t see a toilet. Just a sink in granite and some toiletries that hinted at bathroom-like activities. And a lovely leather bench seat. Maybe there was a second door.

I started opening drawers and doors . . . found all kinds of amenities and goodies. Anything a world-weary executive could need to make themselves appear fresh and lovely.

As I stood there looking for the toilet, I realized this was more than just a bathroom. This was the kind of room you had airplane sex in. Like the world headquarters for the Mile-High Club. Mirrors everywhere. Perfect lighting (now that I mention it, I did look ravishing). Room for arms and legs and more than one pair each. Padded leather bench. Plenty of maneuvering space. Plenty of toiletries to freshen up after the deed. Like it never happened.

And then I realized I was traveling on a corporate jet with executives I had no interest in engaging in anything other than small talk. It was at that moment that I found the toilet hidden beneath the leather bench. Just a toilet. Oh, to be sure, the toilet paper was hidden away in a nice little wood grain holder, and stuff. But functional, nonetheless; no romance at all.

I washed my hands in the gold-trimmed sink, and studied my face in the mirror. The lighting really was outstanding. And I made myself a promise.

If I ever join the Mile High Club, it’s going to be on a private jet. And I’m blogging it.

Unless reading about old people having sex in airplanes grosses you out.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Down for the Count

“Preference on your therapist?” she asked. “Male or female?”

“No preference,” I said, forgetting to mention that I needed a strong hand, which usually meant male. But I’m not one to discriminate against women with man hands.

“Then you’ll be with Igor today.” She said it like “Eee-gor,” and it made me think of some wicked little hunchbacked troll they kept in the dungeon. But the man who greeted me was an average-sized older gentleman, with a lean, athletic build, and a full head of snow white hair, dressed all in black.

“Mrs. Chako,” he said, in a deep, melodic voice with a heavy Russian/eastern European accent. Except it sounded like “Meeesus Chaako”. Picture Dracula saying it.

He led me to the dark, quiet room. Kind of like a cave. I explained the aches and pains du jour. He proceeded to make enough references to sternocleidomastoid muscles and other suffering body parts to convince me he had skills, and I slipped out of my clothes quickly and under the covers. But not before noticing that his business card just said "Igor." No last name.

Igor returned and began his routine. Testing my muscles here and there. Slow, gentle strokes at first. Then more pressure. “The pressure – is good?” Which in standard English is a sentence, but in his imperfect English with the accent became a question. I mumbled an affirmative into the pillow.

“Now Mrs. Chako, I will need you to make deep breath, and release slowly, while I count from six to one.” Except he said “seeex.” I took a breath, and let him work his magic.

“Seeex . . . five . . . four . . . “ The voice started to distract me. He started to sound like the Count on Sesame Street. I kept waiting for him to laugh . . . “ha ha ha . . . I LOVE to count!”

“. . . three . . . two . . . one.” Yes, definitely had that Dracula sound.

“Ok, this will be painful. Little bit.” Except it sounded like Dracula saying “Leeetle beet.” I have to try to not snicker. Wonder if he’s thinking of biting my neck. Waiting for him to say “I come to suck your blood . . . “

Then he hurt me. Which made me stop thinking about snickering. Don’t get me wrong. It was a good hurt. But one without bite marks and immortality. I let out a breath.

He worked muscles I didn’t know hurt. Muscles that people haven’t worked in a long time. Speaking to me in that hypnotic voice, discarding unnecessary “a’s”, “an’s” and “the’s” as he went. Suddenly, I understood how vampires got their victims. The voice itself was therapy. Now if only he looked like Edward from the Twilight movies. Bite me . . .

Sixty minutes was over too fast. I felt drained, but still had all my red blood cells, as far as I could tell. No more counting, no more pain.

He waited outside the room with a glass of water. Thanked me formally. Smiled.I still found myself trying to catch a glimpse of his canine teeth. But willing to risk another appointment. Because there is nothing more oddly appealing than laying naked on a table in a dark room while Count Dracula’s voice says “This will be little bit painful . . ."

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Of Poker . . .

  • Booked DrChako for the blogger weekend. Thursday to Sunday, and we're in the Bellagio . . . ah the life (and discounts for booking early). Why not me, you ask? Oh, I plan to be there. But apparently being a VP requires you to do things, oh, say, like . . . make sure your company's financials are filed. I'm still working out the "when" of Vegas. I will miss golf, but NOT Steel Panthers. Just FYI. Stay tuned.
  • Booked DrChako on a separate trip in a couple weeks with his buddy Josh. He's supposed to be networking so he can get a job. But I'm letting him go play. Say it. You know you want to. Just say it. I'm the best wife ever. Ever.
  • Played some poker at the Bay 101 this weekend. Made a 50% return on my poker investment. Just slow, steady, careful play. One good bluff. And only one true suck-out, though I had a fair amount of outs, truth be told. It was interesting because I would totally say my play was predictable, and yet, people would still play with me when I was betting. Almost as if they had to see. Couldn't believe I would consistently bet the best hand. Just wanted to check if this time was a bluff.
  • At the Bay 101, I think I acquired a girlfriend. She was in the 1 seat, I was in the 9 seat. She kept saying things like "You're so cute. Thank you, pretty. I just think you are adorable." She'd had a bit to drink. I don't know why I tickled her fancy. But there was a little relief when her husband showed up to take her away (though not without a wink and a "Bye, pretty"). I was starting to wonder how I would politely decline her advances (she looked like a screamer - wouldn't want to wake the kids and all).
  • Need to have a poker party at the new house.

Must sleep now.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Can I Teach?

You know, I had this night all planned. Little work, little dinner, little cleaning, and a post about . . . poker!

But then the migraine hit. After a fitful nap after work, two Excedrin Migraine, and a random dinner of french green beans and a piece of peanut butter toast, I decided to postpone the cleaning and writing and read with my littlest guy.

He's in first grade now. We were reading a Dr. Suess book - usually, pretty good for this age. Lots of rhyme and repetition.

We've always read to the kids. Nearly every night since they were babies. The Dr. and I both love reading. When he's not here with me, a book warms my bed at night. My oldest son has taken up reading at bedtime too, and is involved in his own series of science fantasy.

So I found myself frustrated with my little guy. Getting him to sound out the words was a struggle. Words he should recognize by sight - couldn't remember. Words he'd just sounded out - back to square one. He'd get to the end of sounding it out - and couldn't remember how to put all the pieces back together. He'd twist and turn and play with things around him. He was obviously getting frustrated. Wasn't making easy connections.

He's not a dumb kid. He's a kid who will pull vocabulary words out of thin air. He's a kid who can draw elaborate pictures of things. He can remember occasions and places and events with uncanny detail and accuracy. All of the basic signs of intelligence are there. And he's learned so many other things. He's funny, and compassionate, and loving, and social, and a whole host of other characteristics I want my children to exhibit.

So why is this so hard? Is it because its the last thing we're doing tonight and he's tired? Is it something I failed to teach? We didn't force him to practice reading this summer - too much upheaval and change and disruption. Was that my failing? When will it all click? How do I make it click? How do I help him get there, when I know there is nothing to stop him?

I don't remember it being this hard with Number 1. I don't remember it being this hard for me. I want to be a good parent. But I'm starting to wonder, can I teach?

I feel like banging my head against the wall.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

One Box

She's a little crazy, this girl. A little controlling, to say the least. It was her idea to have them unpack. Jayne, she says, it will be easier this way. It will force us to get things organized and put away, Jayne. I love when she uses the term "us".

But then she runs off to go play Vice President every day. Leaving herself little time to attend to the trivial pursuits of daily life. Like finishing the unpacking.

So who does she dump it on? You guessed it. Yours truly. When she knows I'd rather be off writing up some new fiction. Shoe shopping. Running off to the beach house with Betty. Anything but trying to figure out where the piles of stuff she's accumulated over the last 17 years will fit in 600 less square feet.

There's one box the movers wouldn't unpack. Which is odd. What could it be? I do a quick inventory of her stuff. I can't think of anything critical she's missing.

I grab the box cutter and slit the tape. It's not a heavy box - and it doesn't make much noise. when I flip back the cardboard, I see why. Unmentionables. Which is kind of a funny term, given that I'm mentioning them here.

At first it's nothing dramatic. 40 pairs of pantyhose in a variety of shades. Some with holes in them (is she that cheap?). Sport socks. Couple chemises to sleep in. Really tame ones. A pair of flannel PJs.

Old underwear. Really old. Like why was she keeping these? Just in case there was a break-in, and the thieves snuck in and stole everything from the REAL underwear drawer, she'd have a couple pair of old backup skivvies? Just in case? I'm telling you, she's nuts. The shape these things were in, she'd be better off commando.

Then comes the odd things. An old-fashioned hankie. A yarmulke with a relative's bat mitzvah date stamped inside in gold embossed letters. Her great grandmother's salt and pepper shakers. Scarves. More pantyhose. Thigh high stockings. Now we're talking.

A garter belt. Two garter belts. Her wedding bustier. A garter (like from a wedding, but its not hers . . . aren't the guys supposed to be the ones catching the garter?).

A leather studded dog collar? Oh, wait, that was from her wedding. Long story. Well, short story, just long time ago. Catch me in Vegas between hugs and I'll spill.

Black beaded necklace and matching earrings, along with rhinestone bracelet. Damn it, that's where it's been this whole time! She thought I lost it on one of my escapades. Sheesh.

More rhinestones. Except they are attached to some weird velvet halter and shorts set. ???? More velvet, attached to satin. More satin, attached to sheer. Sheer attached to fishnet. This stuff is older than the hills. It's like going to a Frederick's of Hollywood garage sale.

Oh wait. That one is cute. And that one? Well, you never know. She might want to keep it. Ok, the fishnet stockings might be good with a Halloween costume.

Hand-knit booties? Fail. Old bra, with no elastic? Fail. Pink socks with holes in? Fail. How did one of the kids plastic toys get in here . . . wait, not a toy.

More pantyhose . . . wait . . . catsuit. What is a 40 year old mother of two doing with this? I'm going to save her future embarrassment - I'm sure when she was 25 that seemed like a good idea.

No wonder they didn't want to unpack this stuff. I'm starting to wonder if they weren't rolling their eyes the first time they packed it. Or snickering as Miss You-Know-VP-Who walked in with her conservative navy suit, high-necked sweater and sensible closed toe pumps and asked "how is the unpacking coming, gentlemen?" They're thinking "closet freak".

I can finally see cardboard on the other end, and I toss the box to the side. But something rattles. One last item. A small satin pouch, with something hard in it. Two halves of a plastic golf ball, filled with velvet. A makeshift ring box from 15 years earlier, when the Dr. knelt on the green and asked her to be Mrs.

We'll keep that one.

Treasure among the trash. Hope she's not too busy to appreciate it.

Jayne C.


She's reduced to feeling 17 again. The nervous energy, anticipating the smallest things, measuring each glance, each word, each motion.

Oceans of life between them, yet the currents and tides have brought them around to the same shores. She sits in the audience with not more than 20 feet between them. The air charged.

The audience watches his moves, listens to the catch in his voice, feels his emotion. Only she catches the glance. His eyebrow cocks; the corners of his mouth turn up slightly as he closes his eyes and leads into the chorus. Words that were clearly planned ages ago sound like he wrote them just for her. But she's sure someone else has had that same thought.

His eyes catch hers again, and he smiles; she is certain this time. She feels heat in the cool of the air on the patio; feels her throat constrict for a moment and her lungs fail briefly. The pulse in her neck, echoed by an extra beat of her heart bound tightly under her ribcage, brings her back into reality, and she takes a breath. His face seems flushed too, but stage lights play tricks on the mind.

Later, he stops by. Greets her friends. Teases her. She promises to see the next show. He promises not to hold her to it. Hugs her before he's pulled back into the crowd. She holds her breath. Swallows hard when he's out of sight. Needs to leave. Feels like a lightning rod in a storm. Needs to discharge.

She turns and walks out. Won't look back, though she wants to.

Passes under a streetlight on her way to her car, parked down the street. It burns out with a flash, and darkness fills the small void above her head, temporarily, until she walks into the dim yellow puddled around the next streetlight.

Feeling strangely relieved.

Ready for the next storm.

Monday, September 7, 2009

When Life Hands You Lemons . . .

What is it you do with them?

I think I generally try to stay positive and think about making lemonade. But somedays its hard. Like last week, when I found myself in the middle of a very busy week at work, in immediate need of a new au pair due to unfortunate turns of events, mourning the loss of a dear, young uncle, and trying to coordinate travel plans for a husband, a new au pair, and my own travel to the funeral.

Having a supportive family is helpful. And having work be supportive makes it easier. But last week the only thing that kept me from being a little "woe is me" is the fact that I knew my aunt/godmother was the only one who bore a cross big enough to have that dubious honor.

I flew to the midwest as quickly as I could arrange - got to the wake as it was wrapping up. There she stood, in the traditional black of a widow, but smiling and greeting her guests. Sharing fond memories of my uncle, laid out in the casket behind her.

In my arms, she collapsed, sobbing. I held her and cried with her. My intent was to be strong - but she broke me. It was almost as if she was relieved that there was someone else she could lean on.

The next two days were the same. All of my emotions put to the test, as family members reached out to me to find strength. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I'm the oldest daughter of the oldest daughter. The logical one. The one who has lived through more changes and transitions in the last 17 years than most people see in a lifetime. The one who's stood by her husband as he said goodbye to both parents in the last 11 years.

Suddenly, I didn't have time to worry about the au pair transition. And I didn't have time to worry about work. And I didn't have time to worry about small things.

I sat in the funeral services a few pews behind my aunt. Listened to his family eulogize my uncle. Remembering his favorite sayings like "don't sweat the small stuff." He was clearly a man who had his priorities straight, and the church filled with family and friends was a testament to that.

His oldest son is a pilot, like his father was. He told a story of how his father signed off their regular calls to each other. In planes, there is an artificial horizon indicator - half of it is brown, and half of it is blue. It helps you tell how your plane is oriented with respect to the ground while doing maneuvers. He used to end his calls to my cousin with a cheerful "Keep the blue side up".

This past week has helped me focus. My house is still not fully unpacked. I have things on my "to do" list at work left over from last week. I've got one au pair transitioning out, and one au pair transitioning in. We're still shuttling the good Dr. back and forth between Seattle while we wait for California to grant his medical license.

But at the end of my day, all that should matter is that good people have good memories of a good person. Should I accomplish nothing more than this, I should consider my life well-lived.

Thank you, Uncle Jerry, for a harsh reminder of a good lesson.

Keep the blue side up.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife